Ask the Experts: IP-Addressable Video Technology

A roundtable discussion featuring CCTV, IP and security experts

ST&D: How do you answer an end user who says, "I don't know the first thing about IP/Ethernet. It seems far too complicated to even consider."

Ariel Silverstone, chief information security officer, Temple University: You educate them. Here are the benefits, here are the drawbacks. You do not need to get technical on the issue. Show a basic ROI.

Gorovici: We have seen a fairly high level of sophistication and understanding of what an IP-based system can bring to their operation. The fact is, any mid-size organization has internal expertise to understand this technology, but it's not always in the security department. The key is cooperation between IT and security, and for security to understand they have unique expertise in security management that IT will never have.

Taylor: First of all, anyone who can go online at his or her business already has an IP address. And, with the exception of small businesses, the end users' IT department will be the integrator of the security system to the broadband system and will assign the bandwidth to meet the system's needs. As long as the installer understands the basics about IP/ethernet, the end user does not have to understand it at all. A good system will shield the end user from the underlying technology. End users should look for manufacturer's certification to ensure that their integrator has the sufficient skills to do the job well.

Ehrenberg: This industry is in a state of transition?from analog, to digital, to IP. We recommend to our end-users to look for scalable solutions, which will enable them to shift to IP at their own pace.

Friborg: Within the higher-end market segments on which we focus our sales efforts, we don't get this question so often anymore. Should we get it, it is our experience the customer is willing to broaden his mind when we have explained the main benefits. As the next step the customer's IT department is often involved, and most mysteries can be explained.

ST&D: Some end users say analog cameras always seem to give a better picture on their monitors. Is there some truth in this statement?

Silverstone: Yes. That depends on the line speed, the recording compression ratio, the light conditions and the cameras used. With the right combination, you can easily exceed the quality of analog images.

Telders: Our digital cameras and monitors have significantly better images than the analog system they replaced. It should be noted, however, that not all cameras need to be at the same level of clarity; it depends entirely on the business use of the cameras. One consideration that should be taken is that IP image enhancement has less of a proven track record. There are investigative tools that are well established for analog systems to clean up images and get better results during investigations. Digital systems also have this capability, and the tools are improving all the time. However, with digital technology a pixel is a pixel, and the clean-up process does not have the same degree of established acceptance yet. The solution with a digital system is to design the system for high quality up front so it does not require enhancement.

Brahms: Yes, there is some truth to this statement. When images are digitized and compressed, there is some loss of picture resolution. The more compressed a digital image, the higher the degree of image loss. This is generally true of all the varying image compression methods and particularly evident in network viewing applications, where there are compromises between bandwidth usage, rate of transmission and image file size. Some of the newer advances in compression technology have slightly improved this loss, yielding a better-quality image from a smaller compressed file size.

Nilsson: The belief that analog cameras provide better image quality than network cameras is one of the most common misperceptions in the market. Some early network cameras did not have very good image quality, and that could be the original source of this belief. However, the image sensor (CCD sensor) in a network camera is exactly the same as that in an analog camera. The image quality has been the same for the last two years. In fact, the image quality from a network camera is now actually much better, for two primary reasons. The first reason is the emergence of progressive scan sensors that eliminate interlace problems which occur in analog cameras at 4CIF resolutions. The second reason is megapixel sensors, which are only usable with network cameras.